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AJC Passport
Celebrating Mizrahi Heritage Month with The Forgotten Exodus: Iran

AJC Passport

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2022 37:56


Too few people know that parts of the Arab world and Iran were once home to large Jewish communities. This Mizrahi Heritage Month, let's change the story, with the final episode of the first season of The Forgotten Exodus, the first-ever narrative podcast series devoted exclusively to the rich, fascinating, and often-overlooked history of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewry. Thank you for lifting up these stories to celebrate Mizrahi Heritage Month. If you enjoy this episode, be sure to listen to the rest of The Forgotten Exodus, wherever you get your podcasts.   __ Home to one of the world's oldest Jewish communities, the story of Jews in Iran has been one of prosperity and suffering through the millennia. During the mid-20th century, when Jews were being driven from their homes in Arab lands, Iran assisted Jewish refugees in providing safe passage to Israel. Under the Shah, Israel was an important economic and political ally. Yet that all swiftly changed in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which ushered in Islamic rule, while chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” rang out from the streets of Tehran.   Author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian shares her personal story of growing up Jewish in Iran during the reign of the Shah and then Ayatollah Khomeini, which she wrote about in her memoir Journey From the Land of No. Joining Hakakian is Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history who wrote From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of AJC Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants.  In this sixth and final episode of the season, the Hakakian family's saga captures the common thread that has run throughout this series – when the history of an uprooted community is left untold, it can become vulnerable to others' narratives and assumptions, or become lost forever and forgotten. How do you leave behind a beloved homeland, safeguard its Jewish legacy, and figure out where you belong? __ Show notes: Listen to The Forgotten Exodus and sign up to receive updates about future episodes.  Song credits:  Chag Purim · The Jewish Guitar Project Hevenu Shalom · Violin Heart Pond5:  “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Oud Nation”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Haygaz Yossoulkanian (BMI), IPI#1001905418 “Persian”: Publisher: STUDEO88; Composer: Siddhartha Sharma “Meditative Middle Eastern Flute”: Publisher: N/; Composer: DANIELYAN ASHOT MAKICHEVICH (IPI NAME #00855552512), UNITED STATES BMI Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Sentimental Oud Middle Eastern”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989. “Frontiers”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Pete Checkley (BMI), IPI#380407375 “Persian Investigative Mystery”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Peter Cole (BMI), IPI#679735384 “Persian Wind”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Sigma (SESAC); Composer: Abbas Premjee (SESAC), IPI#572363837 “Modern Middle Eastern Underscore”: Publisher: All Pro Audio LLC (611803484); Composer: Alan T Fagan (347654928) “Persian Fantasy Tavern”: Publisher: N/A; Composer: John Hoge “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833. ___ Episode Transcript: ROYA HAKAKIAN: In 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. When I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them.  MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. This is The Forgotten Exodus.  Today's episode: Leaving Iran MANYA: Outside Israel, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. Yes, the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2022. Though there is no official census, experts estimate about 10,000 Jews now live in the region previously known as Persia.  But since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Jews in Iran don't advertise their Jewish identity. They adhere to Iran's morality code: women stay veiled from head to toe and men and women who aren't married or related stay apart in public. They don't express support for Israel, they don't ask questions, and they don't disagree with the regime. One might ask, with all these don'ts, is this a way of living a Jewish life? Or a way to live – period?  For author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian and her family, the answer was ultimately no. Roya has devoted her life to being a fact-finder and truth-teller. A former associate producer at the CBS news show 60 Minutes and a Guggenheim Fellow, Roya has written two volumes of poetry in Persian and three books of nonfiction in English, the first of which was published in 2004 – Journey From the Land of No, a memoir about her charmed childhood and accursed adolescence growing up Jewish in Iran under two different regimes.  ROYA: It was hugely important for me to create an account that could be relied on as a historic document. And I did my best through being very, very careful about gathering, interviewing, talking to, observing facts, evidence, documents from everyone, including my most immediate members of my family, to do what we, both as reporters, but also as Jews, are called to do, which is to bear witness. No seemed to be the backdrop of life for women, especially of religious minorities, and, in my own case, Jewish background, and so I thought, what better way to name the book than to call it as what my experience had been, which was the constant nos that I heard. So, Land of No was Iran. MANYA: As a journalist, as a Jew, as a daughter of Iran, Roya will not accept no for an answer. After publishing her memoir, she went on to write Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, a meticulously reported book about a widely underreported incident. In 1992 at a Berlin restaurant, a terrorist attack by the Iranian proxy Hezbollah targeted and killed four Iranian-Kurdish exiles. The book highlighted Iran's enormous global footprint made possible by its terror proxies who don't let international borders get in the way of silencing Iran's critics.   Roya also co-founded the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an independent non-profit that reports on Iran's human rights abuses.  Her work has not prompted Ayatollah Khameini to publicly issue a fatwa against her  – like the murder order against Salman Rushdie issued by his predecessor. But in 2019, one of her teenage sons answered a knock at the door. It was the FBI, warning her that she was in the crosshairs of the Iranian regime's operatives in America. Most recently, Roya wrote A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious about the emotional roller coaster of arriving in America while still missing a beloved homeland, especially one where their community has endured for thousands of years. ROYA: I felt very strongly that one stays in one's homeland, that you don't just simply take off when things go wrong, that you stick around and try to figure a way through a bad situation. We came to the point where staying didn't seem like it would lead to any sort of real life and leaving was the only option. MANYA: The story of Jews in Iran, often referred to as Persia until 1935, is a millennia-long tale. A saga of suffering, repression, and persecution, peppered with brief moments of relief or at least relative peace – as long as everyone plays by the rules of the regime. SABA SOOMEKH: The history of Jews in Iran goes back to around 2,700 years ago. And a lot of people assume that Jews came to Iran, well at that time, it was called the Persian Empire, in 586 BCE, with the Babylonian exile. But Jews actually came a lot earlier, we're thinking 721-722 BCE with the Assyrian exile which makes us one of the oldest Jewish communities.  MANYA: That's Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history and the author of From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants. Saba's parents fled Iran in 1978, shortly before the revolution, when Saba and her sister were toddlers. She has devoted her career to preserving Iranian Jewish history.   Saba said Zoroastrian rulers until the 7th Century Common Era vacillated between tolerance and persecution of Jews. For example, according to the biblical account in the Book of Ezra, Cyrus the Great freed the Jews from Babylonian rule, granted all of them citizenship, and permitted them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple.  The Book of Esther goes on to tell the story of another Persian king, believed to be Xerxes I, whose closest adviser called Haman conspires to murder all the Jews – a plot that is foiled by his wife Queen Esther who is Jewish herself. Esther heroically pleads for mercy on behalf of her people – a valor that is celebrated on the Jewish holiday of Purim.  But by the time of the Islamic conquest in the middle of the 7th Century Common Era, the persecution had become so intense that Jews were hopeful about the new Arab Muslim regime, even if that meant being tolerated and treated as second-class citizens, or dhimmi status. But that status had a different interpretation for the Safavids. SABA: Really things didn't get bad for the Jews of the Persian Empire until the 16th century with the Safavid dynasty, because within Shia Islam in the Persian Empire, what they brought with them is this understanding of purity and impurity. And Jews were placed in the same category as dogs, pigs, and feces. They were seen as being religiously impure, what's referred to as najes. MANYA: Jews were placed in ghettos called mahaleh, where they wore yellow stars and special shoes to distinguish them from the rest of the population. They could not leave the mahaleh when it rained for fear that if water rolled off their bodies into the water system, it would render a Shia Muslim impure. For the same reason, they could not go to the bazaars for fear they might contaminate the food. They could not look Muslims in the eye. They were relegated to certain artisanal professions such as silversmithing and block printing – crafts that dirtied one's hands.  MANYA: By the 19th century, some European Jews did make their way to Persia to help. The Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Paris-based network of schools founded by French Jewish intellectuals, opened schools for Jewish children throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including within the mahalehs in Persia.  SABA: They saw themselves as being incredibly sophisticated because they were getting this, in a sense, secular European education, they were speaking French. The idea behind the Allianz schools was exactly that. These poor Middle Eastern Jews, one day the world is going to open up to them, their countries are going to become secular, and we need to prepare them for this, not only within the context of hygiene, but education, language.  And the Allianz schools were right when it came to the Persian Empire because who came into power was Reza Pahlavi, who was a Francophile. And he turned around and said, ‘Wow! Look at the population that speaks French, that knows European philosophy, etc. are the Jews.' He brought them out of the mahaleh, the Jewish ghettos, and said ‘I don't care about religion. Assimilate and acculturate. As long as you show, in a sense, devotion, and nationalism to the Pahlavi regime, which the Jews did—not all Jews—but a majority of them did. MANYA: Reza Pahlavi took control in 1925 and 16 years later, abdicated his throne to his son Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1935, Persia adopted a new name: Iran. As king or the Shah, both father and son set Iran on a course of secularization and rapid modernization under which Jewish life and success seemed to flourish. The only condition was that religious observance was kept behind closed doors. SABA: The idea was that in public, you were secular and in private, you were a Jew. You had Shabbat, you only married a Jew, it was considered blasphemous if you married outside of the Jewish community. And it was happening because people were becoming a part of everyday schools, universities.  But that's why the Jewish day schools became so important. They weren't learning Judaism. What it did was ensure that in a secular Muslim society, that the Jewish kids were marrying within each other and within the community. It was, in a sense, the Golden Age. And that will explain to you why, unlike the early 1950s, where you had this exodus of Mizrahi Jews, Arab Jews from the Arab world and North Africa, you didn't really have that in Iran.  MANYA: In fact, Iran provided a safe passage to Israel for Jewish refugees during that exodus, specifically those fleeing Iraq. The Pahlavi regime considered Israel a critical ally in the face of pan-Arab fervor and hostility in the region. Because of the Arab economic boycott, Israel needed energy sources and Iran needed customers for its oil exports.  A number of Israelis even moved to Tehran, including farmers from kibbutzim who had come to teach agriculture, and doctors and nurses from Hadassah Hospital who had come to teach medicine.  El Al flew in and out of Tehran airport, albeit from a separate terminal. Taking advantage of these warm relations between the two countries, Roya recalls visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins in Israel.  ROYA: We arrived, and my mom and dad did what all visiting Jews from elsewhere do. They dropped to their knees, and they started kissing the ground. I did the same, and it was so moving. Israel was the promised land, we thought about Israel, we dreamed about Israel. But, at the same time, we were Iranians and, and we were living in Iran, and things were good.  This seems to non-Iranian Jews an impossibility. But I think for most of us, it was the way things were. We lived in the country where we had lived for, God knows how many years, and there was this other place that we somehow, in the back of our minds thought we would be going to, without knowing exactly when, but that it would be the destination. MANYA: Relations between the Shah and America flourished as well. In 1951, a hugely popular politician by the name of Mohammad Mosaddegh became prime minister and tried to institute reforms. His attempts to nationalize the oil industry and reduce the monarchy's authority didn't go over well. American and British intelligence backed a coup that restored the Shah's power. Many Iranians resented America's meddling, which became a rallying cry for the revolution. U.S. officials have since expressed regret for the CIA's involvement.  In November 1977, President Jimmy Carter welcomed the Shah and his wife to Washington, D.C., to discuss peace between Egypt and Israel, nuclear nonproliferation, and the energy crisis.  As an extension of these warm relations, the Shah sent many young Iranians to America to enhance their university studies, exposing them to Western ideals and values.  Meanwhile, a savvy fundamentalist cleric was biding his time in a Paris basement. It wouldn't be long before relations crumbled between Iran and Israel, Iran and the U.S,. and Iran and its Jews.  Roya recalls the Hakakian house at the corner of Alley of the Distinguished in Tehran as a lush oasis surrounded by fragrant flowers, full of her father's poetry, and brimming with family memories. Located in the heart of a trendy neighborhood, across the street from the Shah's charity organization, the tall juniper trees, fragrant honeysuckle, and gold mezuzah mounted on the door frame set it apart from the rest of the homes.  Roya's father, Haghnazar, was a poet and a respected headmaster at a Hebrew school. Roya, which means dream in Persian, was a budding poet herself with the typical hopes and dreams of a Jewish teenage girl.  ROYA: Prior to the revolution, life in an average Tehran Hebrew Day School looked very much like life in a Hebrew Day School anywhere else. In the afternoons we had all Hebrew and Jewish studies. We used to put on a Purim show every year. I wanted to be Esther. I never got to be Esther. We had emissaries, I think a couple of years, from Israel, who came to teach us how to do Israeli folk dance. MANYA: There were moments when Roya recalls feeling self-conscious about her Jewishness, particularly at Passover. That's when the family spent two weeks cleaning, demonstrating they weren't najes, or dirty Jews. The work was rewarded when the house filled with the fragrance of cumin and saffron and Persian dishes flowed from the kitchen, including apple and plum beef stew, tarragon veal balls stuffed with raisins, and rice garnished with currants and slivers of almonds.  When her oldest brother Alberto left to study in America, a little fact-finding work on Roya's part revealed that his departure wasn't simply the pursuit of a promising opportunity. As a talented cartoonist whose work had been showcased during an exhibition in Tehran, his family feared Alberto's pen might have gone too far, offending the Pahlavi regime and drawing the attention of the Shah's secret police.  Reports of repression, rapid modernization, the wide gap between Tehran's rich and the rest of the country's poor, and a feeling that Iranians weren't in control of their own destiny all became ingredients for a revolution, stoked by an exiled cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini who was recording cassette tapes in a Paris basement and circulating them back home.  SABA: He would just sit there and go on and on for hours, going against the Shah and West toxification. And then the recordings ended up in Iran. He wasn't even in Iran until the Shah left. MANYA: Promises of democracy and equality galvanized Iranians of all ages to overthrow the Shah in February 1979. Even the CIA was surprised.  SABA: I think a lot of people didn't believe it. Because number one, the Shah, the son, was getting the most amount of military equipment from the United States than anyone in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. And the idea was: you protect us in the Gulf, and we will give you whatever you need. So they never thought that a man with a beard down to his knee was able to overthrow this regime that was being propped up and supported by America, and also the Europeans. Khomeini comes in and represents himself as a person for everyone. And he was brilliant in the way he spoke about it. And the reason why this revolution was also successful was that it wasn't just religious people who supported Khomeini, there was this concept you had, the men with the turbans, meaning the religious people, and the you know, the bow ties or the ties, meaning the secular man, a lot of them who were sent by the Shah abroad to Europe and America to get an education, who came back, saw democracy there, and wanted it for their country.  MANYA: Very few of the revolutionaries could predict that Tehran was headed in the opposite direction and was about to revert to 16th Century Shia Islamic rule. For almost a year, Tehran and the rest of the nation were swept up in revolutionary euphoria.  Roya recalls how the flag remained green, white, and red, but an Allah insignia replaced its old sword-bearing lion. New currency was printed, with portraits bearing beards and turbans. An ode to Khomeini became the new national anthem. While the Shah had escaped on an Air France flight, corpses of his henchmen graced the front pages of newspapers alongside smiling executioners. All celebrated, until the day one of the corpses was Habib Elghanian, the Jewish philanthropist who supported all of Iran's Hebrew schools. Charged and convicted as a Zionist spy.  Elders in the community remembered the insurmountable accusations of blood libel during darker times for Iran's Jews. But younger generations like Roya's, who had not lived through the eras of more ruthless antisemitism and persecution, continued to root for the revolution, regardless of its victims. Meanwhile, Roya's Jewish day school was taken over by a new veiled headmistress who replaced Hebrew lessons with other kinds of religious instruction, and required robes and headscarves for all the students.  ROYA: In the afternoons, from then on, we used to have lessons in a series of what she called: ‘Is religion something that you inherit, or is it something that you choose?' And so I think the intention, clearly, was to convince us that we didn't need to inherit our religions from our parents and ancestors, that we ought to consider better choices. MANYA: But when the headmistress cut short the eight-day Passover break, that was the last straw for Roya and her classmates. Their revolt got her expelled from school.  Though Jews did not universally support Khomeini, some saw themselves as members of the Iranian Communist, or Tudeh Party. They opposed the Shah and the human rights abuses of his monarchy and cautiously considered Khomeini the better option, or at least the lesser of two evils. Alarmed by the developments such as Elghanian's execution and changes like the ones at Roya's school, Jewish community leaders traveled to the Shia holy city of Qom to assure the Supreme Leader of their loyalty to Iran.  SABA: They did this because they wanted to make sure that they protected the Jewish community that was left in Iran. Khomeini made that distinction: ‘I am not against Jews, I'm against Zionists. You could be Jewish in this country. You cannot be a Zionist in this country.'  MANYA: But that wasn't the only change. Right away, the Family Protection Law was reversed, lifting a law against polygamy, giving men full rights in divorce and custody, and lowering the marriage age for girls to nine. Women were banned from serving as judges, and beaches and sports events were segregated by gender.  But it took longer to shut down universities, albeit for only two years, segregate public schools by gender, and stone to death women who were found to have committed adultery. Though Khomeini was certainly proving that he was not the man he promised to be, he backed away from those promises gradually – one brutal crackdown at a time. As a result, the trickle of Jews out of Iran was slow.  ROYA: My father thought, let's wait a few years and see what happens. In retrospect, I think the overwhelming reason was probably that nobody believed that things had changed, and so drastically. It seemed so unbelievable. I mean, a country that had been under monarchy for 2,500 years, couldn't simply see it all go and have a whole new system put in place, especially when it was such a radical shift from what had been there before. So I think, in many ways, we were among the unbelievers, or at least my father was, we thought it could never be, it would not happen. My father proved to be wrong, nothing changed for the better, and the conditions continued to deteriorate. So, so much catastrophe happened in those few years that Iran just simply was steeped into a very dark, intense, and period of political radicalism and also, all sorts of economic shortages and pressures. And so the five years that we were left behind, that we stayed back, changed our perspective on so many things. MANYA: In November 1979, a group of radical university students who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, seized hostages, and held them for 444 days until President Ronald Reagan's inauguration on January 20, 1981. During the hostages' captivity, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The conflict that ensued for eight years created shortages on everything from dairy products to sanitary napkins. Mosques became distribution centers for rations. ROYA: We stood in line for hours and hours for eggs, and just the very basic things of daily life. And then it became also clear that religious minorities, including Jews, would no longer be enjoying the same privileges as everyone else. There were bombings that kept coming closer and closer to Tehran, which is where we lived. It was very clear that half of my family that was in the United States could not and would not return, because they were boys who would have been conscripted to go to war. Everything had just come apart in a way that was inconceivable to think that they would change for the better again. MANYA: By 1983, new laws had been passed instituting Islamic dress for all women – violations of which earned a penalty of 74 lashes. Other laws imposed an Islamic morality code that barred co-ed gatherings. Roya and her friends found refuge in the sterile office building that housed the Jewish Iranian Students Association. But she soon figured out that the regime hadn't allowed it to remain for the benefit of the Jewish community. It functioned more like a ghetto to keep Jews off the streets and out of their way. Even the activities that previously gave her comfort were marred by the regime. Poetry books were redacted. Mountain hiking trails were arbitrarily closed to mourn the deaths of countless clerics.  SABA: Slowly what they realize, when Khomeini gained power, was that he was not the person that he claimed to be. He was not this feminist, if anything, all this misogynistic rule came in, and a lot of people realize they, in a sense, got duped and he stole the revolution from them. MANYA: By 1984, the war with Iraq had entered its fourth year. But it was no longer about protecting Iran from Saddam Hussein. Now the Ayatollah wanted to conquer Baghdad, then Jerusalem where he aspired to deliver a sermon from the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, Muslim soldiers wounded in the war chose to bleed rather than receive treatment from Jewish doctors. Boys as young as 12 – regardless of faith – were drafted and sent on suicide missions to open the way for Iranian troops to do battle.  SABA: They were basically used as an army of children that the bombs would detonate, their parents would get a plastic key that was the key to heaven. And the bombs would detonate, and then the army would come in Iranian army would come in. And so that's when a lot of the Persian parents, the Jewish parents freaked out. And that's when they were like: we're getting out of here.  MANYA: By this time, the Hakakian family had moved into a rented apartment building and Roya was attending the neighborhood school. Non-Muslim students were required to take Koran classes and could only use designated water fountains and bathrooms.  As a precaution, Roya's father submitted their passports for renewal. Her mother's application was denied; Roya's passport was held for further consideration; her father's was confiscated.  One night, Roya returned home to find her father burning her books and journals on the balcony of their building. The bonfire of words was for the best, he told her. And at long last, so was leaving. With the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Roya and her mother, Helen, fled to Geneva, and after wandering in Europe for several months, eventually reunited with her brothers in the United States. Roya did not see her father again for five years. Still unable to acquire a passport, he was smuggled out of Iran into Pakistan, on foot.  ROYA: My eldest brother left to come to America in the mid-70s. There was a crack in the body of the family then. But then came 1979, and my two other brothers followed. And so we were apart for all those very, very formative years. And then, in 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. So, you know, it's interesting that when I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them.  MANYA: While her father's arrival in America was delayed, Roya describes her arrival in stages. She first arrived as a Jewish refugee in 1985 and found her place doing what she had always done – writing in Persian – rebuilding a body of work that had been reduced to ashes.  ROYA: As a teen I had become a writer, people were encouraging me. So, I continued to do it. It was the thing I knew how to do. And it gave me a sense of grounding and identity. So, I kept on doing it, and it kind of worked its magic, as I suppose good writing does for all writers. It connected me to a new community of people who read Persian and who appreciated what I was trying to do. And I found that with each book that I write, I find a new tribe for myself.  MANYA: She arrived again once she learned English. In her first year at Brooklyn College, she tape-recorded her professors to listen again later. She eventually took a course with renowned poet Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry was best known for its condemnation of persecution and imperial politics and whose 1950s poem “Howl” tested the boundaries of America's freedom of speech.  ROYA: When I mastered the language enough to feel comfortable to be a writer once more, then I found a footing and through Allen and a community of literary people that I met here began to kind of foresee a possibility of writing in English. MANYA: There was also her arrival to an American Jewish community that was largely unaware of the role Jews played in shaping Iran long before the advent of Islam. Likewise, they were just as unaware of the role Iran played in shaping ancient Jewish life. They were oblivious to the community's traditions, and the indignities and abuses Iranian Jews had suffered, continue to suffer, with other religious minorities to keep those traditions alive in their homeland.   ROYA: People would say, ‘Oh, you have an accent, where are you from?' I would say, ‘Iran,' and the Jews at the synagogue would say, ‘Are there Jews in Iran?' MANYA: In Roya's most recent book A Beginner's Guide to America, a sequel of sorts to her memoir, she reflects on the lessons learned and the observations made once she arrived in the U.S. She counsels newcomers to take their time answering what might at first seem like an ominous or loaded question. Here's an excerpt: ROYA: “In the early days after your arrival, “Where are you from?” is above all a reminder of your unpreparedness to speak of the past. You have yet to shape your story – what you saw, why you left, how you left, and what it took to get here. This narrative is your personal Book of Genesis: the American Volume, the one you will sooner or later pen, in the mind, if not on the page. You must take your time to do it well and do it justice.” MANYA: No two immigrants' experiences are the same, she writes. The only thing they all have in common is that they have been uprooted and the stories of their displacement have been hijacked by others' assumptions and agendas. ROYA: I witnessed, as so many other Iranian Jews witness, that the story of how we came, why we came, who we had been, was being narrated by those who had a certain partisan perspective about what the history of what Jewish people should be, or how this history needs to be cast, for whatever purposes they had. And I would see that our own recollections of what had happened were being shaded by, or filtered through views other than our own, or facts other than our own. MANYA: As we wrap up this sixth and final episode of the first season of The Forgotten Exodus, it is clear that the same can be said about the stories of the Jewish people. No two tales are the same. Jews have lived everywhere, and there are reasons why they don't anymore. Some fled as refugees. Some embarked as dreamers. Some forged ahead without looking back. Others counted the days until they could return home. What ties them together is their courage, perseverance, and resilience–whether they hailed from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, or parts beyond. These six episodes offer only a handful of those stories–shaped by memories and experiences. ROYA: That became sort of an additional incentive, if not burden for me to, to be a witness for several communities, to tell the story of what happened in Iran for American audiences, to Jews, to non-Iranian Jews who didn't realize that there were Jews in Iran, but also to record the history, according to how I had witnessed it, for ourselves, to make sure that it goes down, as I knew it. MANYA: Iranian Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left their homes in the Middle East to forge new lives for themselves and future generations.  Many thanks to Roya for sharing her family's story and for helping us wrap up this season of The Forgotten Exodus. If you're listening for the first time, check out our previous episodes on Jews from Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Go to ajc.org/theforgottenexodus where you'll also find transcripts, show notes, and family photos. There are still so many stories to tell. Stay tuned in coming months. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories.  Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891.1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to theforgottenexodus@ajc.org and we'll be in touch. Tune in every Friday for AJC's weekly podcast about global affairs through a Jewish lens, People of the Pod, brought to you by the same team behind The Forgotten Exodus.  Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can follow The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can sign up to receive updates at AJC.org/forgottenexodussignup. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC.  You can reach us at theforgottenexodus@ajc.org. If you've enjoyed the episode, please be sure to spread the word, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review to help more listeners find us.

Litwithprayer Podcast
Facing Imminent Danger Pt.3 - Esther Chapter 5

Litwithprayer Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2022 7:31


Queen Esther had a difficult decision to make which was a matter of life and death not only for herself but for her people. She had hidden her identity as a Jew and now a proclamation to kill all Jews had been decreed for a certain date. After fasting for three days and nights she made a decision to go into the inner courts of the king and wait to see  if she would be killed or given permission by the king to approach him. She said in a message to Mordecai, her uncle, “I will go to the king, which is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”  She went in faith and with courage.The king raised his golden scepter allowing Queen Esther to come and speak with him.  The Bible says that she found favor with the king and he asked her to give him her request. He said he would give her up to half of his kingdom. Queen Esther came prepared with her request. She didn't beg the king to save her people at that time. Here is her opportunity to make such a request, but instead she invites the king and Haman to come to a banquet that she has prepared for him. The invitation pleased the king so he quickly called for Haman and invited him as well.  Haman attended the banquet with the king and again the king asked Queen Esther for her request, up to half of his kingdom. Queen Esther invited the king and Haman back for another private banquet the next day and said she would make her request at that time. Haman was so happy on his way home from the banquet until he saw Mordecai the Jew. Mordecai would not bow to him and tremble before him. Haman was incensed, but restrained himself from doing anything at that moment. He didn't want to spoil the memory of being with the king and queen at the banquet. When Haman got home he gathered his wife and friends and bragged about the banquet, his riches, his blessings, his many children, and how he had been promoted. But he did reveal what was truly in his heart. With all of his great riches, family, and promotions, when he saw Mordecai sitting at the king's gate (the town square where business is conducted), these great things meant  nothing to him. His hatred toward Mordecai was greater than the good fortune he was experiencing.  The evil heart is never satisfied. Haman could not fully enjoy all of his worldly blessings and his family as long as he saw Mordecai disrespecting him.  You may be wondering, “Why didn't Mordecai show respect and bow to Haman?” The book of Esther does not give the reason for Mordecai's refusal, but it does describe Haman as the son of Hammedatha the Agagite. Haman came from the lineage of Agag, former king of Amalek. The Amalekites had been enemies of the Jews for many centuries because they were the first to attack them when they came out of Egypt and continued to have battles with them as recorded in the Old Testament. Some historians believe that Haman may have worn a pagan symbol or idol. Bowing to an idol goes against God's law which is Jewish law (Exodus 20:2). When Mordecai is referred to as, “the Jew,” it would be customary for a Jew not to bow to an idol or pagan symbol.  Jesus said in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, sexual immorality,  thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” God does not look at the outward appearance of a person, but what is in a person's heart (I. Samuel 16:7). What comes out of the mouth, your words, comes from your heart and the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. (I Chronicles 28:9).Read the rest at: https://litwithprayer.substack.com/p/facing-imminent-danger-part-3?sd=pf

Judaism Demystified | A Guide for Todays Perplexed
Episode 30: Mitchell First Esq. "Jewish Roots & Rituals"

Judaism Demystified | A Guide for Todays Perplexed

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 18, 2022 47:13


Mitchell First Esq. examines pre-exilic acrostics that point to the Hebrew letter Pe preceding Ayin in the original order of the Hebrew alphabet (as in Eikhah chaps. 2-4, and based on recent archaeological findings) and the ramifications of this for the book of Tehillim (and for Eshet Hayil). He also makes a strong case for King Ahashverosh and Xerxes being one and the same. If this is true, how can we determine who Queen Esther is in the historical record? The answer may surprise you.

Litwithprayer Podcast
Facing Imminent Danger Pt.2 - Esther Chapters 1-4

Litwithprayer Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2022 7:34


Last week we left the story of Esther with a death sentence over the Jewish people. The wicked Haman had talked the King of Persia into signing a proclamation that on a certain day all the Jewish people would be killed, including women and children, young and old. Haman allowed his hatred for Mordecai, the Jew, to include every person who was of the Jewish race.Little did Haman know that Queen Esther was also a Jew. She kept her identity a secret because her uncle told her not to reveal it. She was orphaned as a child when both her parents died, and was adopted by her Uncle Mordecai. When the king was looking for a new queen to replace his disobedient wife, he had his men search his kingdom for the most beautiful young virgin women who would be considered as the next queen of Persian. Esther was one of the young women taken for this competition. Although it sounds glamorous the young women taken would all have to sleep with the king and if not chosen to be his queen, they would become a part of his harem and not have their own husbands or families.Esther was beautiful and lovely and found favor with the servants that helped her and when her turn came to visit the king, he fell in love with her and chose her to be his queen. Queen Esther could only visit the king when he called for her. If she were to go see him without being called, she would be killed unless the king lifted his golden scepter allowing her to visit. When news got back to Esther about the decree to kill all Jews, Mordecai asked her to go to the king and ask him to save her people.Mordecai made it clear to Esther that God may have chosen her to be in this position for such a time as this. He said if she did not act, God would deliver His people, but she would not be spared. If she kept silent she would not be spared according to Mordecai, but if she went to the king without being called she could be killed. She had to make a difficult decision and called for her people to fast from food and water for 3 days. Esther and all her maidens fasted as well.Read the rest here: https://litwithprayer.substack.com/p/facing-imminent-danger-part-2?sd=pf 

Faith Bible Church
God Names the Queen - Esther 2:1-18 - Pastor Stuart Sanders

Faith Bible Church

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 13, 2022 50:37


Sunday, November, 13, 2022 10:00am

Southside Baptist Church Podcast
Experiencing God | Part 5 - The Crisis of Belief

Southside Baptist Church Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 30, 2022 32:22


Have you ever heard the phrase, “time to fish or cut bait”? It describes that moment when a decision must be made. You will either put your line in the water to fish or sit in the boat and cut bait for those who do. Whenever God invites us to join Him and His work, we face a “fish or cut bait” moment. What we do in response to God's invitation will reveal what we truly believe about God. Join us for part five of Experiencing God, where we will see how God's invitation to Queen Esther led her to a crisis of belief that required faith and action.  

Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens
For Such a Time as This

Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 8, 2022 4:30


In the book of Esther, a Jew becomes queen of a gentile (or non-Jewish) nation that stretches from India to Cush (the upper Nile region). This kingdom is headed by King Xerxes. But Esther is not his first queen. The book begins when King Xerxes gives an enormous banquet for all his officials and the people of the land. At the end of the banquet, he commands his queen, Vashti, to come to him so he can display her beauty to the people. But Vashti refuses, so the king deposes her from her position as queen and replaces her with Esther—after choosing her from among many other beautiful girls who were taken to his palace. He doesn't know Esther is a Jew. But one day, there's trouble. Mordecai, who is Esther's cousin, sits at the king's gate to find out how Esther is doing, and he refuses to bow to a high-ranking official named Haman. In his anger, Haman determines to kill Mordecai—together with all the Jews in the kingdom. Mordecai learns of Haman's plot and sends a message to Queen Esther instructing her to go to the king and plead with him for her people's rescue. Esther is at first unwilling to appear before the king, knowing that whoever intrudes in the king's inner court uninvited must be killed. So Mordecai sends a messenger back to Esther with these words: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Esther then agrees, instructing all the Jews to fast with her before she goes to the king. When Esther appears before him and pleads for herself and her people, the king listens. The genocide plan fails, Haman is impaled, and Mordecai is promoted! The book of Esther shows us that God loves His people, and He is able to deliver them from trouble using any means. God is sovereign. Even though there was a plot to exterminate Jewish people, God worked through Esther to save them. Generations later, God came to save His people from sin and death—permanently. Because God loves us, Jesus died and rose again for us. We can become part of God's family by putting our trust in Jesus. And, as a part of God's family, when a need arises and we are in a position to help, we can do so because God's love is in us, and He will give us the courage to do whatever He calls us to do. ⦁ Charity Kiregyera ⦁ If God can work through any means, why do you think He often works through His people? “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b (NIV)

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)
Day 279: Blessings and Burdens (2022)

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2022 19:30


Fr. Mike offers a brief recap of today's chapter from Nehemiah, identifying the difference between those who were able to live in Jerusalem and those who were not. He explains the ancestral gifts that each tribe of Israel received and applies this concept to the vices and virtues of our families, as well as our freedom to adopt or reject them. Today we read from Nehemiah 11, Esther 8, 16, and Proverbs 21:17-20. For the complete reading plan, visit ascensionpress.com/bibleinayear. Please note: The Bible contains adult themes that may not be suitable for children - parental discretion is advised.

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)
Day 278: Power in Weakness (2022)

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2022 20:55


Fr. Mike walks us through the signing of the covenant in Nehemiah 10 and relates Israel's collective decision to belong to God to our personal encounters with God that inspire us to follow him simply because he has called us. He also offers insight on how God used the physical weakness of Esther to move the king's heart to gentleness. Today's readings are Nehemiah 10, Esther 15, 6-7, and Proverbs 21:13-16. For the complete reading plan, visit ascensionpress.com/bibleinayear. Please note: The Bible contains adult themes that may not be suitable for children - parental discretion is advised.

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)
Day 277: Such a Time as This (2022)

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2022 27:34


Today's readings remind us that all good things come from God, and he calls us to specific places and times for a reason. In the book of Esther, Fr. Mike points out that Esther was perfectly positioned to fulfill God's will. We too, can examine our lives and realize that there are places God has brought us, "for such a time as this". The readings are Nehemiah 9, Esther 4 and 14, and Proverbs 21:9-12. For the complete reading plan, visit ascensionpress.com/bibleinayear. Please note: The Bible contains adult themes that may not be suitable for children - parental discretion is advised.

Biblical Archaeology Today w/ Steve Waldron
Archaeology of Xerxes 1 and Artaxerxes 1

Biblical Archaeology Today w/ Steve Waldron

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 3, 2022 11:01


Extensive confirmation of the Biblical record, with a possible identification of Queen Esther in Persian history also. Thank you for listening! Please share and subscribe! Leave a five star review!

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)
Day 276: Haman's Plan (2022)

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 3, 2022 18:16


As Fr. Mike reads from Nehemiah today, we hear about how the hearts of the people of Israel were moved as Ezra reads the book of the law of Moses to them. In our reading of Esther, we have the beginning of the crisis that will unfold throughout the book as Haman, backed by the king, seeks to destroy the Jews. Today's readings are Nehemiah 8, Esther 3 and 13, and Proverbs 21:5-8. For the complete reading plan, visit ascensionpress.com/bibleinayear. Please note: The Bible contains adult themes that may not be suitable for children - parental discretion is advised.

FWCbtown
Fearless - Queen Esther

FWCbtown

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 2, 2022 60:25


In this week's Fearless sermon, Pastor Jeremy explores the story of Queen Esther.  Teaching that fearlessness can't be kept quite, is wise, and finds favor.

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)
Day 275: Esther Becomes Queen (2022)

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 2, 2022 26:30


Fr. Mike continues reading from the book of Nehemiah as we read of the many attempts to prevent Nehemiah from doing the great work of God. We also see the events that lead to Esther being chosen as queen and the goodness she will bring even in the midst of a broken system. Today's readings are Nehemiah 6-7, Esther 1-2, and Proverbs 21:1-4. For the complete reading plan, visit ascensionpress.com/bibleinayear. Please note: The Bible contains adult themes that may not be suitable for children - parental discretion is advised.

ESV: Daily Office Lectionary
September 23: Psalm 88; Psalms 91–92; Esther 8:1–8; Esther 8:15–17; Acts 19:21–41; Luke 4:31–37

ESV: Daily Office Lectionary

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2022 11:03


Proper 20 First Psalm: Psalm 88 Psalm 88 (Listen) I Cry Out Day and Night Before You A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil1 of Heman the Ezrahite. 88   O LORD, God of my salvation,    I cry out day and night before you.2   Let my prayer come before you;    incline your ear to my cry! 3   For my soul is full of troubles,    and my life draws near to Sheol.4   I am counted among those who go down to the pit;    I am a man who has no strength,5   like one set loose among the dead,    like the slain that lie in the grave,  like those whom you remember no more,    for they are cut off from your hand.6   You have put me in the depths of the pit,    in the regions dark and deep.7   Your wrath lies heavy upon me,    and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah 8   You have caused my companions to shun me;    you have made me a horror2 to them.  I am shut in so that I cannot escape;9     my eye grows dim through sorrow.  Every day I call upon you, O LORD;    I spread out my hands to you.10   Do you work wonders for the dead?    Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah11   Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?12   Are your wonders known in the darkness,    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? 13   But I, O LORD, cry to you;    in the morning my prayer comes before you.14   O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?    Why do you hide your face from me?15   Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,    I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.316   Your wrath has swept over me;    your dreadful assaults destroy me.17   They surround me like a flood all day long;    they close in on me together.18   You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;    my companions have become darkness.4 Footnotes [1] 88:1 Probably musical or liturgical terms [2] 88:8 Or an abomination [3] 88:15 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain [4] 88:18 Or darkness has become my only companion (ESV) Second Psalm: Psalms 91–92 Psalms 91–92 (Listen) My Refuge and My Fortress 91   He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.2   I will say1 to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,    my God, in whom I trust.” 3   For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler    and from the deadly pestilence.4   He will cover you with his pinions,    and under his wings you will find refuge;    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.5   You will not fear the terror of the night,    nor the arrow that flies by day,6   nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7   A thousand may fall at your side,    ten thousand at your right hand,    but it will not come near you.8   You will only look with your eyes    and see the recompense of the wicked. 9   Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—    the Most High, who is my refuge2—10   no evil shall be allowed to befall you,    no plague come near your tent. 11   For he will command his angels concerning you    to guard you in all your ways.12   On their hands they will bear you up,    lest you strike your foot against a stone.13   You will tread on the lion and the adder;    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. 14   “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;    I will protect him, because he knows my name.15   When he calls to me, I will answer him;    I will be with him in trouble;    I will rescue him and honor him.16   With long life I will satisfy him    and show him my salvation.” How Great Are Your Works A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath. 92   It is good to give thanks to the LORD,    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;2   to declare your steadfast love in the morning,    and your faithfulness by night,3   to the music of the lute and the harp,    to the melody of the lyre.4   For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;    at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 5   How great are your works, O LORD!    Your thoughts are very deep!6   The stupid man cannot know;    the fool cannot understand this:7   that though the wicked sprout like grass    and all evildoers flourish,  they are doomed to destruction forever;8     but you, O LORD, are on high forever.9   For behold, your enemies, O LORD,    for behold, your enemies shall perish;    all evildoers shall be scattered. 10   But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;    you have poured over me3 fresh oil.11   My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;    my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants. 12   The righteous flourish like the palm tree    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.13   They are planted in the house of the LORD;    they flourish in the courts of our God.14   They still bear fruit in old age;    they are ever full of sap and green,15   to declare that the LORD is upright;    he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Footnotes [1] 91:2 Septuagint He will say [2] 91:9 Or For you, O Lord, are my refuge! You have made the Most High your dwelling place [3] 92:10 Compare Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain (ESV) Old Testament: Esther 8:1–8; Esther 8:15–17 Esther 8:1–8 (Listen) Esther Saves the Jews 8 On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. 2 And the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. 3 Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. 4 When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. 5 And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. 6 For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” 7 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows,1 because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. 8 But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked.” Footnotes [1] 8:7 Or wooden beam (see note on 2:23) (ESV) Esther 8:15–17 (Listen) 15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown1 and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. 17 And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them. Footnotes [1] 8:15 Or headdress (ESV) New Testament: Acts 19:21–41 Acts 19:21–41 (Listen) A Riot at Ephesus 21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 23 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” 28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel. 30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31 And even some of the Asiarchs,1 who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?2 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further,3 it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. Footnotes [1] 19:31 That is, high-ranking officers of the province of Asia [2] 19:35 The meaning of the Greek is uncertain [3] 19:39 Some manuscripts seek about other matters (ESV) Gospel: Luke 4:31–37 Luke 4:31–37 (Listen) Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Demon 31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha!1 What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region. Footnotes [1] 4:34 Or Leave us alone (ESV)

The Burros of Berea
Episode 71- A "Lot" can change "a lot". Esther Series- Part 7

The Burros of Berea

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2022 45:39


The Burros of Berea finally get back to our summer series! After a busy summer of interviewing several people from around the country the Burros come together in the studio and pick up in Part 7 where they left of in the Book of Esther. Where we left off the "enemy of the Jews", Haman, had just paraded Mordecai around the city in pomp and circumstance. When Haman leaves the Citadel with his head covered he comes home to tell his wife and friends that the day hadn't turned out like he thought it would. Suddenly the King's eunuchs show up to deliver Haman to the Feast of Queen Esther. Listen in to find out what happens when you cross the God of the Israelites! If you'd like to support our podcast become a patron at: www.patreon.com/theburrosofberea or visit our website at: www.burrosofberea.com. Thanks for listening and supporting our podcast!

ESV: Daily Office Lectionary
September 22: Psalm 83; Psalms 146–147; Psalms 85–86; Esther 7; Acts 19:11–20; Luke 4:14–30

ESV: Daily Office Lectionary

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2022 13:38


Proper 20 First Psalm: Psalm 83; Psalms 146–147 Psalm 83 (Listen) O God, Do Not Keep Silence A Song. A Psalm of Asaph. 83   O God, do not keep silence;    do not hold your peace or be still, O God!2   For behold, your enemies make an uproar;    those who hate you have raised their heads.3   They lay crafty plans against your people;    they consult together against your treasured ones.4   They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;    let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”5   For they conspire with one accord;    against you they make a covenant—6   the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,    Moab and the Hagrites,7   Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,    Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;8   Asshur also has joined them;    they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah 9   Do to them as you did to Midian,    as to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,10   who were destroyed at En-dor,    who became dung for the ground.11   Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,    all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,12   who said, “Let us take possession for ourselves    of the pastures of God.” 13   O my God, make them like whirling dust,1    like chaff before the wind.14   As fire consumes the forest,    as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,15   so may you pursue them with your tempest    and terrify them with your hurricane!16   Fill their faces with shame,    that they may seek your name, O LORD.17   Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;    let them perish in disgrace,18   that they may know that you alone,    whose name is the LORD,    are the Most High over all the earth. Footnotes [1] 83:13 Or like a tumbleweed (ESV) Psalms 146–147 (Listen) Put Not Your Trust in Princes 146   Praise the LORD!  Praise the LORD, O my soul!2   I will praise the LORD as long as I live;    I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 3   Put not your trust in princes,    in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.4   When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;    on that very day his plans perish. 5   Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,    whose hope is in the LORD his God,6   who made heaven and earth,    the sea, and all that is in them,  who keeps faith forever;7     who executes justice for the oppressed,    who gives food to the hungry.   The LORD sets the prisoners free;8     the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.  The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;    the LORD loves the righteous.9   The LORD watches over the sojourners;    he upholds the widow and the fatherless,    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10   The LORD will reign forever,    your God, O Zion, to all generations.  Praise the LORD! He Heals the Brokenhearted 147   Praise the LORD!  For it is good to sing praises to our God;    for it is pleasant,1 and a song of praise is fitting.2   The LORD builds up Jerusalem;    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.3   He heals the brokenhearted    and binds up their wounds.4   He determines the number of the stars;    he gives to all of them their names.5   Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;    his understanding is beyond measure.6   The LORD lifts up the humble;2    he casts the wicked to the ground. 7   Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;    make melody to our God on the lyre!8   He covers the heavens with clouds;    he prepares rain for the earth;    he makes grass grow on the hills.9   He gives to the beasts their food,    and to the young ravens that cry.10   His delight is not in the strength of the horse,    nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,11   but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,    in those who hope in his steadfast love. 12   Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!    Praise your God, O Zion!13   For he strengthens the bars of your gates;    he blesses your children within you.14   He makes peace in your borders;    he fills you with the finest of the wheat.15   He sends out his command to the earth;    his word runs swiftly.16   He gives snow like wool;    he scatters frost like ashes.17   He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;    who can stand before his cold?18   He sends out his word, and melts them;    he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.19   He declares his word to Jacob,    his statutes and rules3 to Israel.20   He has not dealt thus with any other nation;    they do not know his rules.4  Praise the LORD! Footnotes [1] 147:1 Or for he is beautiful [2] 147:6 Or afflicted [3] 147:19 Or and just decrees [4] 147:20 Or his just decrees (ESV) Second Psalm: Psalms 85–86 Psalms 85–86 (Listen) Revive Us Again To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. 85   LORD, you were favorable to your land;    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.2   You forgave the iniquity of your people;    you covered all their sin. Selah3   You withdrew all your wrath;    you turned from your hot anger. 4   Restore us again, O God of our salvation,    and put away your indignation toward us!5   Will you be angry with us forever?    Will you prolong your anger to all generations?6   Will you not revive us again,    that your people may rejoice in you?7   Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,    and grant us your salvation. 8   Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,    for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;    but let them not turn back to folly.9   Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,    that glory may dwell in our land. 10   Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;    righteousness and peace kiss each other.11   Faithfulness springs up from the ground,    and righteousness looks down from the sky.12   Yes, the LORD will give what is good,    and our land will yield its increase.13   Righteousness will go before him    and make his footsteps a way. Great Is Your Steadfast Love A Prayer of David. 86   Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,    for I am poor and needy.2   Preserve my life, for I am godly;    save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.3   Be gracious to me, O Lord,    for to you do I cry all the day.4   Gladden the soul of your servant,    for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.5   For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,    abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.6   Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;    listen to my plea for grace.7   In the day of my trouble I call upon you,    for you answer me. 8   There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,    nor are there any works like yours.9   All the nations you have made shall come    and worship before you, O Lord,    and shall glorify your name.10   For you are great and do wondrous things;    you alone are God.11   Teach me your way, O LORD,    that I may walk in your truth;    unite my heart to fear your name.12   I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,    and I will glorify your name forever.13   For great is your steadfast love toward me;    you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. 14   O God, insolent men have risen up against me;    a band of ruthless men seeks my life,    and they do not set you before them.15   But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.16   Turn to me and be gracious to me;    give your strength to your servant,    and save the son of your maidservant.17   Show me a sign of your favor,    that those who hate me may see and be put to shame    because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me. (ESV) Old Testament: Esther 7 Esther 7 (Listen) 7 So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2 And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” 5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared1 to do this?” 6 And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. Haman Is Hanged 7 And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. 8 And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows2 that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits3 high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated. Footnotes [1] 7:5 Hebrew whose heart has filled him [2] 7:9 Or wooden beam; also verse 10 (see note on 2:23) [3] 7:9 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters (ESV) New Testament: Acts 19:11–20 Acts 19:11–20 (Listen) The Sons of Sceva 11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all1 of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Footnotes [1] 19:16 Or both (ESV) Gospel: Luke 4:14–30 Luke 4:14–30 (Listen) Jesus Begins His Ministry 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. Jesus Rejected at Nazareth 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,    because he has anointed me    to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives    and recovering of sight to the blind,    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,19   to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers1 in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away. Footnotes [1] 4:27 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 (ESV)

ESV: Daily Office Lectionary
September 20: Psalm 78:1–39; Psalm 78:40–72; Esther 5; Acts 18:12–28; Luke 3:15–22

ESV: Daily Office Lectionary

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2022 13:12


Proper 20 First Psalm: Psalm 78:1–39 Psalm 78:1–39 (Listen) Tell the Coming Generation A Maskil1 of Asaph. 78   Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;    incline your ears to the words of my mouth!2   I will open my mouth in a parable;    I will utter dark sayings from of old,3   things that we have heard and known,    that our fathers have told us.4   We will not hide them from their children,    but tell to the coming generation  the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,    and the wonders that he has done. 5   He established a testimony in Jacob    and appointed a law in Israel,  which he commanded our fathers    to teach to their children,6   that the next generation might know them,    the children yet unborn,  and arise and tell them to their children,7     so that they should set their hope in God  and not forget the works of God,    but keep his commandments;8   and that they should not be like their fathers,    a stubborn and rebellious generation,  a generation whose heart was not steadfast,    whose spirit was not faithful to God. 9   The Ephraimites, armed with2 the bow,    turned back on the day of battle.10   They did not keep God's covenant,    but refused to walk according to his law.11   They forgot his works    and the wonders that he had shown them.12   In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders    in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.13   He divided the sea and let them pass through it,    and made the waters stand like a heap.14   In the daytime he led them with a cloud,    and all the night with a fiery light.15   He split rocks in the wilderness    and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.16   He made streams come out of the rock    and caused waters to flow down like rivers. 17   Yet they sinned still more against him,    rebelling against the Most High in the desert.18   They tested God in their heart    by demanding the food they craved.19   They spoke against God, saying,    “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?20   He struck the rock so that water gushed out    and streams overflowed.  Can he also give bread    or provide meat for his people?” 21   Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath;    a fire was kindled against Jacob;    his anger rose against Israel,22   because they did not believe in God    and did not trust his saving power.23   Yet he commanded the skies above    and opened the doors of heaven,24   and he rained down on them manna to eat    and gave them the grain of heaven.25   Man ate of the bread of the angels;    he sent them food in abundance.26   He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,    and by his power he led out the south wind;27   he rained meat on them like dust,    winged birds like the sand of the seas;28   he let them fall in the midst of their camp,    all around their dwellings.29   And they ate and were well filled,    for he gave them what they craved.30   But before they had satisfied their craving,    while the food was still in their mouths,31   the anger of God rose against them,    and he killed the strongest of them    and laid low the young men of Israel. 32   In spite of all this, they still sinned;    despite his wonders, they did not believe.33   So he made their days vanish like3 a breath,4    and their years in terror.34   When he killed them, they sought him;    they repented and sought God earnestly.35   They remembered that God was their rock,    the Most High God their redeemer.36   But they flattered him with their mouths;    they lied to him with their tongues.37   Their heart was not steadfast toward him;    they were not faithful to his covenant.38   Yet he, being compassionate,    atoned for their iniquity    and did not destroy them;  he restrained his anger often    and did not stir up all his wrath.39   He remembered that they were but flesh,    a wind that passes and comes not again. Footnotes [1] 78:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term [2] 78:9 Hebrew armed and shooting [3] 78:33 Hebrew in [4] 78:33 Or vapor (ESV) Second Psalm: Psalm 78:40–72 Psalm 78:40–72 (Listen) 40   How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness    and grieved him in the desert!41   They tested God again and again    and provoked the Holy One of Israel.42   They did not remember his power1    or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,43   when he performed his signs in Egypt    and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.44   He turned their rivers to blood,    so that they could not drink of their streams.45   He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,    and frogs, which destroyed them.46   He gave their crops to the destroying locust    and the fruit of their labor to the locust.47   He destroyed their vines with hail    and their sycamores with frost.48   He gave over their cattle to the hail    and their flocks to thunderbolts.49   He let loose on them his burning anger,    wrath, indignation, and distress,    a company of destroying angels.50   He made a path for his anger;    he did not spare them from death,    but gave their lives over to the plague.51   He struck down every firstborn in Egypt,    the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.52   Then he led out his people like sheep    and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.53   He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid,    but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.54   And he brought them to his holy land,    to the mountain which his right hand had won.55   He drove out nations before them;    he apportioned them for a possession    and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents. 56   Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God    and did not keep his testimonies,57   but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers;    they twisted like a deceitful bow.58   For they provoked him to anger with their high places;    they moved him to jealousy with their idols.59   When God heard, he was full of wrath,    and he utterly rejected Israel.60   He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,    the tent where he dwelt among mankind,61   and delivered his power to captivity,    his glory to the hand of the foe.62   He gave his people over to the sword    and vented his wrath on his heritage.63   Fire devoured their young men,    and their young women had no marriage song.64   Their priests fell by the sword,    and their widows made no lamentation.65   Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,    like a strong man shouting because of wine.66   And he put his adversaries to rout;    he put them to everlasting shame. 67   He rejected the tent of Joseph;    he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,68   but he chose the tribe of Judah,    Mount Zion, which he loves.69   He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,    like the earth, which he has founded forever.70   He chose David his servant    and took him from the sheepfolds;71   from following the nursing ewes he brought him    to shepherd Jacob his people,    Israel his inheritance.72   With upright heart he shepherded them    and guided them with his skillful hand. Footnotes [1] 78:42 Hebrew hand (ESV) Old Testament: Esther 5 Esther 5 (Listen) Esther Prepares a Banquet 5 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace, in front of the king's quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4 And Esther said, “If it please the king,1 let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” 5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. 6 And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.”2 7 Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king3 to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.” Haman Plans to Hang Mordecai 9 And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. 11 And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. 12 Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. 13 Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.” 14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows4 fifty cubits5 high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made. Footnotes [1] 5:4 Hebrew If it is good to the king [2] 5:6 Or done [3] 5:8 Hebrew if it is good to the king [4] 5:14 Or wooden beam; twice in this verse (see note on 2:23) [5] 5:14 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters (ESV) New Testament: Acts 18:12–28 Acts 18:12–28 (Listen) 12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews1 made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this. Paul Returns to Antioch 18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers2 and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. 19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. 21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Apollos Speaks Boldly in Ephesus 24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,3 he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. Footnotes [1] 18:12 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time; also verses 14 (twice), 28 [2] 18:18 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 27 [3] 18:25 Or in the Spirit (ESV) Gospel: Luke 3:15–22 Luke 3:15–22 (Listen) 15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison. 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;1 with you I am well pleased.”2 Footnotes [1] 3:22 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved [2] 3:22 Some manuscripts beloved Son; today I have begotten you (ESV)

ESV: Daily Office Lectionary
September 17: Psalms 75–76; Psalm 23; Psalm 27; Esther 2:5–8; Esther 2:15–23; Acts 17:16–34; John 12:44–50

ESV: Daily Office Lectionary

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 17, 2022 11:30


Proper 19 First Psalm: Psalms 75–76 Psalms 75–76 (Listen) God Will Judge with Equity To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song. 75   We give thanks to you, O God;    we give thanks, for your name is near.  We1 recount your wondrous deeds. 2   “At the set time that I appoint    I will judge with equity.3   When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,    it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah4   I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,'    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;5   do not lift up your horn on high,    or speak with haughty neck.'” 6   For not from the east or from the west    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,7   but it is God who executes judgment,    putting down one and lifting up another.8   For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup    with foaming wine, well mixed,  and he pours out from it,    and all the wicked of the earth    shall drain it down to the dregs. 9   But I will declare it forever;    I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.10   All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,    but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up. Who Can Stand Before You? To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song. 76   In Judah God is known;    his name is great in Israel.2   His abode has been established in Salem,    his dwelling place in Zion.3   There he broke the flashing arrows,    the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah 4   Glorious are you, more majestic    than the mountains full of prey.5   The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil;    they sank into sleep;  all the men of war    were unable to use their hands.6   At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,    both rider and horse lay stunned. 7   But you, you are to be feared!    Who can stand before you    when once your anger is roused?8   From the heavens you uttered judgment;    the earth feared and was still,9   when God arose to establish judgment,    to save all the humble of the earth. Selah 10   Surely the wrath of man shall praise you;    the remnant2 of wrath you will put on like a belt.11   Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them;    let all around him bring gifts    to him who is to be feared,12   who cuts off the spirit of princes,    who is to be feared by the kings of the earth. Footnotes [1] 75:1 Hebrew They [2] 76:10 Or extremity (ESV) Second Psalm: Psalm 23; Psalm 27 Psalm 23 (Listen) The Lord Is My Shepherd A Psalm of David. 23   The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.13     He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness2    for his name's sake. 4   Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,3    I will fear no evil,  for you are with me;    your rod and your staff,    they comfort me. 5   You prepare a table before me    in the presence of my enemies;  you anoint my head with oil;    my cup overflows.6   Surely4 goodness and mercy5 shall follow me    all the days of my life,  and I shall dwell6 in the house of the LORD    forever.7 Footnotes [1] 23:2 Hebrew beside waters of rest [2] 23:3 Or in right paths [3] 23:4 Or the valley of deep darkness [4] 23:6 Or Only [5] 23:6 Or steadfast love [6] 23:6 Or shall return to dwell [7] 23:6 Hebrew for length of days (ESV) Psalm 27 (Listen) The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation Of David. 27   The LORD is my light and my salvation;    whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold1 of my life;    of whom shall I be afraid? 2   When evildoers assail me    to eat up my flesh,  my adversaries and foes,    it is they who stumble and fall. 3   Though an army encamp against me,    my heart shall not fear;  though war arise against me,    yet2 I will be confident. 4   One thing have I asked of the LORD,    that will I seek after:  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD    all the days of my life,  to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD    and to inquire3 in his temple. 5   For he will hide me in his shelter    in the day of trouble;  he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;    he will lift me high upon a rock. 6   And now my head shall be lifted up    above my enemies all around me,  and I will offer in his tent    sacrifices with shouts of joy;  I will sing and make melody to the LORD. 7   Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;    be gracious to me and answer me!8   You have said, “Seek4 my face.”  My heart says to you,    “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”59     Hide not your face from me.  Turn not your servant away in anger,    O you who have been my help.  Cast me not off; forsake me not,    O God of my salvation!10   For my father and my mother have forsaken me,    but the LORD will take me in. 11   Teach me your way, O LORD,    and lead me on a level path    because of my enemies.12   Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;    for false witnesses have risen against me,    and they breathe out violence. 13   I believe that I shall look6 upon the goodness of the LORD    in the land of the living!14   Wait for the LORD;    be strong, and let your heart take courage;    wait for the LORD! Footnotes [1] 27:1 Or refuge [2] 27:3 Or in this [3] 27:4 Or meditate [4] 27:8 The command (seek) is addressed to more than one person [5] 27:8 The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain [6] 27:13 Other Hebrew manuscripts Oh! Had I not believed that I would look (ESV) Old Testament: Esther 2:5–8; Esther 2:15–23 Esther 2:5–8 (Listen) 5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So when the king's order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king's palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. (ESV) Esther 2:15–23 (Listen) 15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown1 on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther's feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity. Mordecai Discovers a Plot 19 Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate. 20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows.2 And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king. Footnotes [1] 2:17 Or headdress [2] 2:23 Or wooden beam or stake; Hebrew tree or wood. This Persian execution practice involved affixing or impaling a person on a stake or pole (compare Ezra 6:11) (ESV) New Testament: Acts 17:16–34 Acts 17:16–34 (Listen) Paul in Athens 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. Paul Addresses the Areopagus 22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,1 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for   “‘In him we live and move and have our being';2 as even some of your own poets have said,   “‘For we are indeed his offspring.'3 29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Footnotes [1] 17:24 Greek made by hands [2] 17:28 Probably from Epimenides of Crete [3] 17:28 From Aratus's poem “Phainomena” (ESV) Gospel: John 12:44–50 John 12:44–50 (Listen) Jesus Came to Save the World 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (ESV)

Backseat Bible Nuggets

How cool is it that there's a story about a queen who loved God in the Bible? We just heard how brave she was to go to the king and ask for him to save the lives of the Jews. When Esther went to the King without him asking her to come she could have been killed! Kings were very serious back then with lots of strict rules!   In fact, Esther said this in the Bible: “I'll go to the king. I'll do it even though it against the law. And if I have to die, I'll die.” Esther 4:16   Esther, trusting God and His plan, knew what she had to do to save the Jewish people. Even if it meant putting her life on the line. Wow! What bravery!   You can read more about Queen Esther in the Bible. She has a whole book in the Bible named after her for what she did! Through the book of Esther, we see that God's plan will always win. And we learn that He always takes care of His people. AND guess what? Esther's story shows us that God has more power than any king or ruler. So, here are some questions to talk about. You can pause after each question and discuss. Oh, and the point is to get conversation flowing. So don't overthink it! How do you think Esther felt when she had to be brave? Have you ever had to be brave and do something you were scared to do? For this last question, you might have to go and read more about Queen Esther to answer. But, in what ways did God honor her bravery? Like what happened to Esther after she did this for God? Our verse today is Esther 4:16. You can repeat after me. “I'll go to the king. I'll do it even though it against the law. And if I have to die, I'll die.” Esther 4:16

Commuter Bible
Esther 6-10, Isaiah 24

Commuter Bible

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2022 25:40


Esther 6 - 1:12 . Esther 7 - 4:35 . Esther 8 - 7:51 . Esther 9 - 12:23 . Esther 10 - 19:47 . Isaiah 24 - 20:42 . The future looks bleak for the people of God. With the king's signet ring in hand, Haman has devised a scheme to wipe out God's people, whom he hates because of his hatred for Mordecai. It seems that the only hope for God's people rests with Queen Esther, a young woman who has become fully enveloped into Persian culture. Today, Esther continues on her patient quest to woo King Ahaseurus into a hearing her case against Haman. Before today's episode ends, Haman's wrath will return on his head through both humiliation and execution, and God's people will celebrate a day of great blessing and favor even in the midst of exile.:::Christian Standard Bible translation.All music written and produced by John Burgess Ross.Co-produced by Bobby Brown, Katelyn Rahn, Eric Williamson & the Christian Standard Biblefacebook.com/commuterbibleinstagram.com/commuter_bibletwitter.com/CommuterPodpatreon.com/commuterbibleadmin@commuterbible.org

Our Daily Bread Podcast | Our Daily Bread

Despite living much of his life as a pagan, the Roman emperor Constantine (272–337 ad) implemented reforms that stopped the systematic persecution of Christians. He also instituted the calendar we use, dividing all of history into bc (Before Christ) and ad (Anno Domini, or Year of our Lord). A move to secularize this system has changed the labels to ce (Common Era) and bce (Before the Common Era). Some people point to this as yet one more example of how the world keeps God out. But God hasn’t gone anywhere. Regardless of the name, our calendar still centers itself around the reality of Jesus’ life on earth. In the Bible, the book of Esther is unusual in that it contains no specific mention of God. Yet the story it tells is one of God’s deliverance. Banished from their homeland, the Jewish people lived in a country indifferent to Him. A powerful government official wanted to kill them all (Esther 8:8–9, 13). Yet through Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai, God delivered His people, a story still celebrated to this day in the Jewish holiday of Purim (9:20–32). Regardless of how the world chooses to respond to Him now, Jesus changed everything. He introduced us to an uncommon era—one full of genuine hope and promise. All we need to do is look around us. We’ll see Him.

Arise with Hari Rao
The Cost of Unusual Favour

Arise with Hari Rao

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 10, 2022 74:21


In this episode, Prophet Hari continues teaching on Unusual Favour. He expounds on the life of Daniel; how he received favour from God. Royalty is not and cannot be rushed. These distinct individuals that were selected would have to be put into 3 years of training for one appearance to stand before the king. There was a preparation required in order to present themselves in a manner that the king approved of. Daniel understood something, that if he was called into the palace by the king, the king also had the power to kick him out of the palace, so he went to a superior power. He understood that winning the favour of the King of Kings is more powerful. There is a favour where the kings of the earth cannot fire you. If you truly stand for God, there's no power that can cause you to fall. You can win the favour of kings without going and looking for the favour of kings. If the Lord likes you, what option does the king have? When the favour, grace and presence of God come upon you, you become irresistible. Your light causes you to become a candidate for unusual kindness. Keys on Favour: 1- Favour is a result of you honouring God and His ways in your generation. It's impossible to truly honour God and His ways and not enjoy a measure of favour. 2- Favour requires/demands preparation. Queen Esther, the king's wife, who was rightfully given the privilege to access the king, still prepared herself to make her request known. She didn't throw a tantrum. Throwing tantrums doesn't work with God. He wants us to learn His ways, and change our ways so that we know how to approach Him. 3- One of the blessings favour brings is access. There's no greater test than access. Favour has protocols. You abuse the protocol, you lose the favour. Favour brings access, and access brings information. Information brings more favour. 4- There is a situation that provokes God to have favour over your life. When enemies hate you and fight you for no reason, you must celebrate, because they create a case for you that you can't plead for yourself. By your conviction and love, when you put yourself in a place of disadvantage to honour God, God sees it and is moved to act on your behalf. 5- The cost of unusual favour is unconditional LOVE

Courageous Radiance
Decisions Matter Downstream-Get it Right

Courageous Radiance

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2022 35:40


Head to the blog for the full blog/show notes: https://courageousradiance.com/2022/09/13/episode-117Esther 3 and 4 are being discussed this week. We will talk about God's main character role, to include Mordecai and Queen Esther. There is a new character to discuss this week, his name is Haman. The plot thickens! Lots to listen to. Grab your Bible or Bible app to follow along. Take out your physical notes or tablet/phone notes, and let's jump into another week. Your life, the place and position that God has you in, is for a greater purpose and it fits into a bigger story. You can also watch this week on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BBqn4a5ZzlI•Have you subscribed to the blog? There are free resources that are purposed to equip and encourage your anchor in Christ. •A FREE 5-day journal is awaiting you once you get subscribed!

The Forgotten Exodus

Home to one of the world's oldest Jewish communities, the story of Jews in Iran has been one of prosperity and suffering through the millennia. During the mid-20th century, when Jews were being driven from their homes in Arab lands, Iran assisted Jewish refugees in providing safe passage to Israel. Under the Shah, Israel was an important economic and political ally. Yet that all swiftly changed in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which ushered in Islamic rule, while chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” rang out from the streets of Tehran.   Author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian shares her personal story of growing up Jewish in Iran during the reign of the Shah and then Ayatollah Khomeini, which she wrote about in her memoir Journey From the Land of No. Joining Hakakian is Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history who wrote From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of AJC Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants.  In this sixth and final episode of the season, the Hakakian family's saga captures the common thread that has run throughout this series – when the history of an uprooted community is left untold, it can become vulnerable to others' narratives and assumptions, or become lost forever and forgotten. How do you leave behind a beloved homeland, safeguard its Jewish legacy, and figure out where you belong? ___ Show notes: Sign up to receive podcast updates here. Learn more about the series here. Song credits:  Chag Purim · The Jewish Guitar Project Hevenu Shalom · Violin Heart Pond5:  “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Oud Nation”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Haygaz Yossoulkanian (BMI), IPI#1001905418 “Persian”: Publisher: STUDEO88; Composer: Siddhartha Sharma “Meditative Middle Eastern Flute”: Publisher: N/; Composer: DANIELYAN ASHOT MAKICHEVICH (IPI NAME #00855552512), UNITED STATES BMI Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Sentimental Oud Middle Eastern”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989. “Frontiers”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Pete Checkley (BMI), IPI#380407375 “Persian Investigative Mystery”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Peter Cole (BMI), IPI#679735384 “Persian Wind”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Sigma (SESAC); Composer: Abbas Premjee (SESAC), IPI#572363837 “Modern Middle Eastern Underscore”: Publisher: All Pro Audio LLC (611803484); Composer: Alan T Fagan (347654928) “Persian Fantasy Tavern”: Publisher: N/A; Composer: John Hoge “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833.   ___ Episode Transcript: ROYA HAKAKIAN: In 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. When I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them.  MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. This is The Forgotten Exodus.  Today's episode: Leaving Iran MANYA: Outside Israel, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. Yes, the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2022. Though there is no official census, experts estimate about 10,000 Jews now live in the region previously known as Persia.  But since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Jews in Iran don't advertise their Jewish identity. They adhere to Iran's morality code: women stay veiled from head to toe and men and women who aren't married or related stay apart in public. They don't express support for Israel, they don't ask questions, and they don't disagree with the regime. One might ask, with all these don'ts, is this a way of living a Jewish life? Or a way to live – period?  For author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian and her family, the answer was ultimately no. Roya has devoted her life to being a fact-finder and truth-teller. A former associate producer at the CBS news show 60 Minutes and a Guggenheim Fellow, Roya has written two volumes of poetry in Persian and three books of nonfiction in English, the first of which was published in 2004 – Journey From the Land of No, a memoir about her charmed childhood and accursed adolescence growing up Jewish in Iran under two different regimes.  ROYA: It was hugely important for me to create an account that could be relied on as a historic document. And I did my best through being very, very careful about gathering, interviewing, talking to, observing facts, evidence, documents from everyone, including my most immediate members of my family, to do what we, both as reporters, but also as Jews, are called to do, which is to bear witness. No seemed to be the backdrop of life for women, especially of religious minorities, and, in my own case, Jewish background, and so I thought, what better way to name the book than to call it as what my experience had been, which was the constant nos that I heard. So, Land of No was Iran. MANYA: As a journalist, as a Jew, as a daughter of Iran, Roya will not accept no for an answer. After publishing her memoir, she went on to write Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, a meticulously reported book about a widely underreported incident. In 1992 at a Berlin restaurant, a terrorist attack by the Iranian proxy Hezbollah targeted and killed four Iranian-Kurdish exiles. The book highlighted Iran's enormous global footprint made possible by its terror proxies who don't let international borders get in the way of silencing Iran's critics.   Roya also co-founded the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an independent non-profit that reports on Iran's human rights abuses.  Her work has not prompted Ayatollah Khameini to publicly issue a fatwa against her  – like the murder order against Salman Rushdie issued by his predecessor. But in 2019, one of her teenage sons answered a knock at the door. It was the FBI, warning her that she was in the crosshairs of the Iranian regime's operatives in America. Most recently, Roya wrote A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious about the emotional roller coaster of arriving in America while still missing a beloved homeland, especially one where their community has endured for thousands of years. ROYA: I felt very strongly that one stays in one's homeland, that you don't just simply take off when things go wrong, that you stick around and try to figure a way through a bad situation. We came to the point where staying didn't seem like it would lead to any sort of real life and leaving was the only option. MANYA: The story of Jews in Iran, often referred to as Persia until 1935, is a millennia-long tale. A saga of suffering, repression, and persecution, peppered with brief moments of relief or at least relative peace – as long as everyone plays by the rules of the regime. SABA SOOMEKH: The history of Jews in Iran goes back to around 2,700 years ago. And a lot of people assume that Jews came to Iran, well at that time, it was called the Persian Empire, in 586 BCE, with the Babylonian exile. But Jews actually came a lot earlier, we're thinking 721-722 BCE with the Assyrian exile which makes us one of the oldest Jewish communities.  MANYA: That's Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history and the author of From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants. Saba's parents fled Iran in 1978, shortly before the revolution, when Saba and her sister were toddlers. She has devoted her career to preserving Iranian Jewish history.   Saba said Zoroastrian rulers until the 7th Century Common Era vacillated between tolerance and persecution of Jews. For example, according to the biblical account in the Book of Ezra, Cyrus the Great freed the Jews from Babylonian rule, granted all of them citizenship, and permitted them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple.  The Book of Esther goes on to tell the story of another Persian king, believed to be Xerxes I, whose closest adviser called Haman conspires to murder all the Jews – a plot that is foiled by his wife Queen Esther who is Jewish herself. Esther heroically pleads for mercy on behalf of her people – a valor that is celebrated on the Jewish holiday of Purim.  But by the time of the Islamic conquest in the middle of the 7th Century Common Era, the persecution had become so intense that Jews were hopeful about the new Arab Muslim regime, even if that meant being tolerated and treated as second-class citizens, or dhimmi status. But that status had a different interpretation for the Safavids. SABA: Really things didn't get bad for the Jews of the Persian Empire until the 16th century with the Safavid dynasty, because within Shia Islam in the Persian Empire, what they brought with them is this understanding of purity and impurity. And Jews were placed in the same category as dogs, pigs, and feces. They were seen as being religiously impure, what's referred to as najes. MANYA: Jews were placed in ghettos called mahaleh, where they wore yellow stars and special shoes to distinguish them from the rest of the population. They could not leave the mahaleh when it rained for fear that if water rolled off their bodies into the water system, it would render a Shia Muslim impure. For the same reason, they could not go to the bazaars for fear they might contaminate the food. They could not look Muslims in the eye. They were relegated to certain artisanal professions such as silversmithing and block printing – crafts that dirtied one's hands.  MANYA: By the 19th century, some European Jews did make their way to Persia to help. The Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Paris-based network of schools founded by French Jewish intellectuals, opened schools for Jewish children throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including within the mahalehs in Persia.  SABA: They saw themselves as being incredibly sophisticated because they were getting this, in a sense, secular European education, they were speaking French. The idea behind the Allianz schools was exactly that. These poor Middle Eastern Jews, one day the world is going to open up to them, their countries are going to become secular, and we need to prepare them for this, not only within the context of hygiene, but education, language.  And the Allianz schools were right when it came to the Persian Empire because who came into power was Reza Pahlavi, who was a Francophile. And he turned around and said, ‘Wow! Look at the population that speaks French, that knows European philosophy, etc. are the Jews.' He brought them out of the mahaleh, the Jewish ghettos, and said ‘I don't care about religion. Assimilate and acculturate. As long as you show, in a sense, devotion, and nationalism to the Pahlavi regime, which the Jews did—not all Jews—but a majority of them did. MANYA: Reza Pahlavi took control in 1925 and 16 years later, abdicated his throne to his son Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1935, Persia adopted a new name: Iran. As king or the Shah, both father and son set Iran on a course of secularization and rapid modernization under which Jewish life and success seemed to flourish. The only condition was that religious observance was kept behind closed doors. SABA: The idea was that in public, you were secular and in private, you were a Jew. You had Shabbat, you only married a Jew, it was considered blasphemous if you married outside of the Jewish community. And it was happening because people were becoming a part of everyday schools, universities.  But that's why the Jewish day schools became so important. They weren't learning Judaism. What it did was ensure that in a secular Muslim society, that the Jewish kids were marrying within each other and within the community. It was, in a sense, the Golden Age. And that will explain to you why, unlike the early 1950s, where you had this exodus of Mizrahi Jews, Arab Jews from the Arab world and North Africa, you didn't really have that in Iran.  MANYA: In fact, Iran provided a safe passage to Israel for Jewish refugees during that exodus, specifically those fleeing Iraq. The Pahlavi regime considered Israel a critical ally in the face of pan-Arab fervor and hostility in the region. Because of the Arab economic boycott, Israel needed energy sources and Iran needed customers for its oil exports.  A number of Israelis even moved to Tehran, including farmers from kibbutzim who had come to teach agriculture, and doctors and nurses from Hadassah Hospital who had come to teach medicine.  El Al flew in and out of Tehran airport, albeit from a separate terminal. Taking advantage of these warm relations between the two countries, Roya recalls visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins in Israel.  ROYA: We arrived, and my mom and dad did what all visiting Jews from elsewhere do. They dropped to their knees, and they started kissing the ground. I did the same, and it was so moving. Israel was the promised land, we thought about Israel, we dreamed about Israel. But, at the same time, we were Iranians and, and we were living in Iran, and things were good.  This seems to non-Iranian Jews an impossibility. But I think for most of us, it was the way things were. We lived in the country where we had lived for, God knows how many years, and there was this other place that we somehow, in the back of our minds thought we would be going to, without knowing exactly when, but that it would be the destination. MANYA: Relations between the Shah and America flourished as well. In 1951, a hugely popular politician by the name of Mohammad Mosaddegh became prime minister and tried to institute reforms. His attempts to nationalize the oil industry and reduce the monarchy's authority didn't go over well. American and British intelligence backed a coup that restored the Shah's power. Many Iranians resented America's meddling, which became a rallying cry for the revolution. U.S. officials have since expressed regret for the CIA's involvement.  In November 1977, President Jimmy Carter welcomed the Shah and his wife to Washington, D.C., to discuss peace between Egypt and Israel, nuclear nonproliferation, and the energy crisis.  As an extension of these warm relations, the Shah sent many young Iranians to America to enhance their university studies, exposing them to Western ideals and values.  Meanwhile, a savvy fundamentalist cleric was biding his time in a Paris basement. It wouldn't be long before relations crumbled between Iran and Israel, Iran and the U.S,. and Iran and its Jews.  Roya recalls the Hakakian house at the corner of Alley of the Distinguished in Tehran as a lush oasis surrounded by fragrant flowers, full of her father's poetry, and brimming with family memories. Located in the heart of a trendy neighborhood, across the street from the Shah's charity organization, the tall juniper trees, fragrant honeysuckle, and gold mezuzah mounted on the door frame set it apart from the rest of the homes.  Roya's father, Haghnazar, was a poet and a respected headmaster at a Hebrew school. Roya, which means dream in Persian, was a budding poet herself with the typical hopes and dreams of a Jewish teenage girl.  ROYA: Prior to the revolution, life in an average Tehran Hebrew Day School looked very much like life in a Hebrew Day School anywhere else. In the afternoons we had all Hebrew and Jewish studies. We used to put on a Purim show every year. I wanted to be Esther. I never got to be Esther. We had emissaries, I think a couple of years, from Israel, who came to teach us how to do Israeli folk dance. MANYA: There were moments when Roya recalls feeling self-conscious about her Jewishness, particularly at Passover. That's when the family spent two weeks cleaning, demonstrating they weren't najes, or dirty Jews. The work was rewarded when the house filled with the fragrance of cumin and saffron and Persian dishes flowed from the kitchen, including apple and plum beef stew, tarragon veal balls stuffed with raisins, and rice garnished with currants and slivers of almonds.  When her oldest brother Alberto left to study in America, a little fact-finding work on Roya's part revealed that his departure wasn't simply the pursuit of a promising opportunity. As a talented cartoonist whose work had been showcased during an exhibition in Tehran, his family feared Alberto's pen might have gone too far, offending the Pahlavi regime and drawing the attention of the Shah's secret police.  Reports of repression, rapid modernization, the wide gap between Tehran's rich and the rest of the country's poor, and a feeling that Iranians weren't in control of their own destiny all became ingredients for a revolution, stoked by an exiled cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini who was recording cassette tapes in a Paris basement and circulating them back home.  SABA: He would just sit there and go on and on for hours, going against the Shah and West toxification. And then the recordings ended up in Iran. He wasn't even in Iran until the Shah left. MANYA: Promises of democracy and equality galvanized Iranians of all ages to overthrow the Shah in February 1979. Even the CIA was surprised.  SABA: I think a lot of people didn't believe it. Because number one, the Shah, the son, was getting the most amount of military equipment from the United States than anyone in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. And the idea was: you protect us in the Gulf, and we will give you whatever you need. So they never thought that a man with a beard down to his knee was able to overthrow this regime that was being propped up and supported by America, and also the Europeans. Khomeini comes in and represents himself as a person for everyone. And he was brilliant in the way he spoke about it. And the reason why this revolution was also successful was that it wasn't just religious people who supported Khomeini, there was this concept you had, the men with the turbans, meaning the religious people, and the you know, the bow ties or the ties, meaning the secular man, a lot of them who were sent by the Shah abroad to Europe and America to get an education, who came back, saw democracy there, and wanted it for their country.  MANYA: Very few of the revolutionaries could predict that Tehran was headed in the opposite direction and was about to revert to 16th Century Shia Islamic rule. For almost a year, Tehran and the rest of the nation were swept up in revolutionary euphoria.  Roya recalls how the flag remained green, white, and red, but an Allah insignia replaced its old sword-bearing lion. New currency was printed, with portraits bearing beards and turbans. An ode to Khomeini became the new national anthem. While the Shah had escaped on an Air France flight, corpses of his henchmen graced the front pages of newspapers alongside smiling executioners. All celebrated, until the day one of the corpses was Habib Elghanian, the Jewish philanthropist who supported all of Iran's Hebrew schools. Charged and convicted as a Zionist spy.  Elders in the community remembered the insurmountable accusations of blood libel during darker times for Iran's Jews. But younger generations like Roya's, who had not lived through the eras of more ruthless antisemitism and persecution, continued to root for the revolution, regardless of its victims. Meanwhile, Roya's Jewish day school was taken over by a new veiled headmistress who replaced Hebrew lessons with other kinds of religious instruction, and required robes and headscarves for all the students.  ROYA: In the afternoons, from then on, we used to have lessons in a series of what she called: ‘Is religion something that you inherit, or is it something that you choose?' And so I think the intention, clearly, was to convince us that we didn't need to inherit our religions from our parents and ancestors, that we ought to consider better choices. MANYA: But when the headmistress cut short the eight-day Passover break, that was the last straw for Roya and her classmates. Their revolt got her expelled from school.  Though Jews did not universally support Khomeini, some saw themselves as members of the Iranian Communist, or Tudeh Party. They opposed the Shah and the human rights abuses of his monarchy and cautiously considered Khomeini the better option, or at least the lesser of two evils. Alarmed by the developments such as Elghanian's execution and changes like the ones at Roya's school, Jewish community leaders traveled to the Shia holy city of Qom to assure the Supreme Leader of their loyalty to Iran.  SABA: They did this because they wanted to make sure that they protected the Jewish community that was left in Iran. Khomeini made that distinction: ‘I am not against Jews, I'm against Zionists. You could be Jewish in this country. You cannot be a Zionist in this country.'  MANYA: But that wasn't the only change. Right away, the Family Protection Law was reversed, lifting a law against polygamy, giving men full rights in divorce and custody, and lowering the marriage age for girls to nine. Women were banned from serving as judges, and beaches and sports events were segregated by gender.  But it took longer to shut down universities, albeit for only two years, segregate public schools by gender, and stone to death women who were found to have committed adultery. Though Khomeini was certainly proving that he was not the man he promised to be, he backed away from those promises gradually – one brutal crackdown at a time. As a result, the trickle of Jews out of Iran was slow.  ROYA: My father thought, let's wait a few years and see what happens. In retrospect, I think the overwhelming reason was probably that nobody believed that things had changed, and so drastically. It seemed so unbelievable. I mean, a country that had been under monarchy for 2,500 years, couldn't simply see it all go and have a whole new system put in place, especially when it was such a radical shift from what had been there before. So I think, in many ways, we were among the unbelievers, or at least my father was, we thought it could never be, it would not happen. My father proved to be wrong, nothing changed for the better, and the conditions continued to deteriorate. So, so much catastrophe happened in those few years that Iran just simply was steeped into a very dark, intense, and period of political radicalism and also, all sorts of economic shortages and pressures. And so the five years that we were left behind, that we stayed back, changed our perspective on so many things. MANYA: In November 1979, a group of radical university students who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, seized hostages, and held them for 444 days until President Ronald Reagan's inauguration on January 20, 1981. During the hostages' captivity, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The conflict that ensued for eight years created shortages on everything from dairy products to sanitary napkins. Mosques became distribution centers for rations. ROYA: We stood in line for hours and hours for eggs, and just the very basic things of daily life. And then it became also clear that religious minorities, including Jews, would no longer be enjoying the same privileges as everyone else. There were bombings that kept coming closer and closer to Tehran, which is where we lived. It was very clear that half of my family that was in the United States could not and would not return, because they were boys who would have been conscripted to go to war. Everything had just come apart in a way that was inconceivable to think that they would change for the better again. MANYA: By 1983, new laws had been passed instituting Islamic dress for all women – violations of which earned a penalty of 74 lashes. Other laws imposed an Islamic morality code that barred co-ed gatherings. Roya and her friends found refuge in the sterile office building that housed the Jewish Iranian Students Association. But she soon figured out that the regime hadn't allowed it to remain for the benefit of the Jewish community. It functioned more like a ghetto to keep Jews off the streets and out of their way. Even the activities that previously gave her comfort were marred by the regime. Poetry books were redacted. Mountain hiking trails were arbitrarily closed to mourn the deaths of countless clerics.  SABA: Slowly what they realize, when Khomeini gained power, was that he was not the person that he claimed to be. He was not this feminist, if anything, all this misogynistic rule came in, and a lot of people realize they, in a sense, got duped and he stole the revolution from them. MANYA: By 1984, the war with Iraq had entered its fourth year. But it was no longer about protecting Iran from Saddam Hussein. Now the Ayatollah wanted to conquer Baghdad, then Jerusalem where he aspired to deliver a sermon from the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, Muslim soldiers wounded in the war chose to bleed rather than receive treatment from Jewish doctors. Boys as young as 12 – regardless of faith – were drafted and sent on suicide missions to open the way for Iranian troops to do battle.  SABA: They were basically used as an army of children that the bombs would detonate, their parents would get a plastic key that was the key to heaven. And the bombs would detonate, and then the army would come in Iranian army would come in. And so that's when a lot of the Persian parents, the Jewish parents freaked out. And that's when they were like: we're getting out of here.  MANYA: By this time, the Hakakian family had moved into a rented apartment building and Roya was attending the neighborhood school. Non-Muslim students were required to take Koran classes and could only use designated water fountains and bathrooms.  As a precaution, Roya's father submitted their passports for renewal. Her mother's application was denied; Roya's passport was held for further consideration; her father's was confiscated.  One night, Roya returned home to find her father burning her books and journals on the balcony of their building. The bonfire of words was for the best, he told her. And at long last, so was leaving. With the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Roya and her mother, Helen, fled to Geneva, and after wandering in Europe for several months, eventually reunited with her brothers in the United States. Roya did not see her father again for five years. Still unable to acquire a passport, he was smuggled out of Iran into Pakistan, on foot.  ROYA: My eldest brother left to come to America in the mid-70s. There was a crack in the body of the family then. But then came 1979, and my two other brothers followed. And so we were apart for all those very, very formative years. And then, in 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. So, you know, it's interesting that when I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them.  MANYA: While her father's arrival in America was delayed, Roya describes her arrival in stages. She first arrived as a Jewish refugee in 1985 and found her place doing what she had always done – writing in Persian – rebuilding a body of work that had been reduced to ashes.  ROYA: As a teen I had become a writer, people were encouraging me. So, I continued to do it. It was the thing I knew how to do. And it gave me a sense of grounding and identity. So, I kept on doing it, and it kind of worked its magic, as I suppose good writing does for all writers. It connected me to a new community of people who read Persian and who appreciated what I was trying to do. And I found that with each book that I write, I find a new tribe for myself.  MANYA: She arrived again once she learned English. In her first year at Brooklyn College, she tape-recorded her professors to listen again later. She eventually took a course with renowned poet Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry was best known for its condemnation of persecution and imperial politics and whose 1950s poem “Howl” tested the boundaries of America's freedom of speech.  ROYA: When I mastered the language enough to feel comfortable to be a writer once more, then I found a footing and through Allen and a community of literary people that I met here began to kind of foresee a possibility of writing in English. MANYA: There was also her arrival to an American Jewish community that was largely unaware of the role Jews played in shaping Iran long before the advent of Islam. Likewise, they were just as unaware of the role Iran played in shaping ancient Jewish life. They were oblivious to the community's traditions, and the indignities and abuses Iranian Jews had suffered, continue to suffer, with other religious minorities to keep those traditions alive in their homeland.   ROYA: People would say, ‘Oh, you have an accent, where are you from?' I would say, ‘Iran,' and the Jews at the synagogue would say, ‘Are there Jews in Iran?' MANYA: In Roya's most recent book A Beginner's Guide to America, a sequel of sorts to her memoir, she reflects on the lessons learned and the observations made once she arrived in the U.S. She counsels newcomers to take their time answering what might at first seem like an ominous or loaded question. Here's an excerpt: ROYA: “In the early days after your arrival, “Where are you from?” is above all a reminder of your unpreparedness to speak of the past. You have yet to shape your story – what you saw, why you left, how you left, and what it took to get here. This narrative is your personal Book of Genesis: the American Volume, the one you will sooner or later pen, in the mind, if not on the page. You must take your time to do it well and do it justice.” MANYA: No two immigrants' experiences are the same, she writes. The only thing they all have in common is that they have been uprooted and the stories of their displacement have been hijacked by others' assumptions and agendas. ROYA: I witnessed, as so many other Iranian Jews witness, that the story of how we came, why we came, who we had been, was being narrated by those who had a certain partisan perspective about what the history of what Jewish people should be, or how this history needs to be cast, for whatever purposes they had. And I would see that our own recollections of what had happened were being shaded by, or filtered through views other than our own, or facts other than our own. MANYA: As we wrap up this sixth and final episode of the first season of The Forgotten Exodus, it is clear that the same can be said about the stories of the Jewish people. No two tales are the same. Jews have lived everywhere, and there are reasons why they don't anymore. Some fled as refugees. Some embarked as dreamers. Some forged ahead without looking back. Others counted the days until they could return home. What ties them together is their courage, perseverance, and resilience–whether they hailed from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, or parts beyond. These six episodes offer only a handful of those stories–shaped by memories and experiences. ROYA: That became sort of an additional incentive, if not burden for me to, to be a witness for several communities, to tell the story of what happened in Iran for American audiences, to Jews, to non-Iranian Jews who didn't realize that there were Jews in Iran, but also to record the history, according to how I had witnessed it, for ourselves, to make sure that it goes down, as I knew it. MANYA: Iranian Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left their homes in the Middle East to forge new lives for themselves and future generations.  Many thanks to Roya for sharing her family's story and for helping us wrap up this season of The Forgotten Exodus. If you're listening for the first time, check out our previous episodes on Jews from Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Go to ajc.org/theforgottenexodus where you'll also find transcripts, show notes, and family photos. There are still so many stories to tell. Stay tuned in coming months. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories.  Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891.1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to theforgottenexodus@ajc.org and we'll be in touch. Tune in every Friday for AJC's weekly podcast about global affairs through a Jewish lens, People of the Pod, brought to you by the same team behind The Forgotten Exodus.  Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can follow The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can sign up to receive updates at AJC.org/forgottenexodussignup. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC.  You can reach us at theforgottenexodus@ajc.org. If you've enjoyed the episode, please be sure to spread the word, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review to help more listeners find us.

VINnews Podcast
THE DEFINITIVE RAP: Great Jewish Women Interview with Talia Rapps founder of the Butterfly Charity Foundation

VINnews Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 1, 2022 34:44


From the days of Miriam, the sister of Moshe Rabbeinu who was born during the Egyptian exile, to after the Exodus, women such as Rachav, Ruth, Yael, and of course Queen Esther, and then Yehudis of theMaccabean period to the present time, there have existed courageous women that have been outstanding figures in history to the extent that these Nashim Tzidkaniyos, these holy women of their era have saved the Jewish nation. Little is known about many others, because with time Jewish women were taught that whatever they do must be done in a quiet manner of tzenuah. Unseen and unheard. Boldness was no longer in vogue for a Jewish woman. And those who did oftentimes received criticism. Baila Sebrow, host of The Definitive Rap sat down with Talia Rapps the founder of the Butterfly Charity Foundation which has produced both the total revolution conference a Jewish women's empowermentconference and The Spiritual Experience Events. Talia discussed educating the world on thebeauty of spirituality illuminated through the Bible, how she came to do this, and where this force within her is coming from. Reply Reply All Forward